Academician Anna-Leena Siikala (1 Jan 1943–27 Feb 2016) passed away on Saturday 27 February. Siikala forged an impressive and well-respected career as a scholar of cultures. Siikala’s extensive production contributed to strengthening the international standing of Finnish folkloristic research. Her work represented the absolute cutting edge in the field. Her studies on the methods and theories of the poetry of oral tradition are considered pioneering.
She studied the religious customs of aboriginal populations in northern Eurasia, shamanism, mythical and historical interpretations of Kalevala-metre poems as well as methods of researching oral tradition. She also explored how an ethnic minority group uses its mythology and tradition in seeking to revive and maintain its own language and way of life under the dominance of mainstream culture. On her numerous field study trips she compiled extensive materials not only in Finland but in the Pacific region as well as in Russia among Finno-Ugric peoples, the Udmurts, the Komi and the Khanti in Siberia.
She was Professor of the Study of Tradition at the University of Joensuu from 1988 to 1995 and Professor of Folkloristics at the University of Helsinki from 1995 to 2007. She served as Academy Professor in 1999–2004. Her scientific competence also covered cultural anthropology and religious science.
She was a major influence in the science policy field both in Finland and internationally. For example, she was active in leadership positions in various humanities associations at home and abroad. Her book on the mythologies of Baltic Finns won the prize for the Finnish science book of the year in 2013.
Siikala received the honorary title of Academician of Science in 2009.
Academy of Finland
Riitta Tirronen, Director of Communications
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